Yes, there is a Santa Claus. And – shh! – he let us peek at his list this year. We checked it twice, as careful journalists should, and we’re pleased to report that Detroit and all of its suburb buddies made the “nice” cut. Frankly? We’re not surprised. Whether it’s our dogged sports teams, burgeoning art scene, tenacious auto industry or amazing music legacy, southeast Michigan is an all-around good kid. So, for our gift guide, we decided to let metro Detroit take the reins. Enjoy.
P.S. Every single toy in our guide is up for grabs! Visit our contests page to enter!
Get little gearheads’ imaginations revved up with Motor City-style picks.
Move this mod little auto to control lights and sounds; its wee passengers are “on/off switches,” introducing early STEM concepts. By Kid O. Ages 2+. $39.99.
With four-wheel drive and amphibious equipment, this R/C creature car can stalk both land and water. By Kid Galaxy. Ages 5+. $39.99. kidgalaxy.com.
Maxx Traxx Tracer Racers
Can you say glow-in-the-dark dual loop? Two small radio-control cars leave purple streaks as they zip along green tracks. By Hands-On Skullduggery. Ages 6+. $99.99 (other options start at $24.99).
Smart Drive Mustang
Ford has a “supplier” you might not expect: Power Wheels. Fisher-Price has teamed up with the Dearborn automaker to release an F-150 truck and this timeless sports car. Out this month, this update features realistic driving, upgraded safety and a new “super sound system.” Ages 3-7. $359.99.
Cherry Wood Pickup Truck
This simple, retro flatbed makes light work of hauling kids’ tiny treasures. Crafted in Ann Arbor by Camden Rose for Palümba. Ages 3+. $16.99. palumba.com.
Help kids’ creativity rival our bold local graffiti and fine museum masterpieces.
Craft EZ Oven
Hot on store shelves, this spin on a toy classic churns out porcelain, clay, crystal and other creations vs. little cakes. By Made4U Studio. Ages 8+. $59.99/oven, $6.99-$12.99/kits.
Really Bad Art
Can’t even draw a stick figure? No sweat. In this fast-paced game, you get six seconds to sketch your “best” stab at one of 500 phrases. The worse, the more fun. 3-6 players. By Wonder Forge. Ages 12+.
The coloring-book craze gets the wearable treatment with these tops kids can design, wash and color in again. By Kidz Entertainment Inc. Nine designs. Youth S, M, L. Ages 4-12. $17.95.
Traveler’s Sketch and Draw Easel Case
Packed with 124 traditional art tools, this kit easily turns into an on-the-go tabletop easel. Spot “Canton” on the back of the box (it’s one of the brands’ warehouse sites). By ALEX Toys. Ages 3+. $99.99.
3Doodler Start Essentials Pen Set
Finally – a 3D printer for kids! This contraption literally draws in the air, letting kids design their own toys, accessories, playscapes and loads more. Ages 8+. $49.99.
Lions and Tigers and Wings and Pistons, oh my! Get moving with this gear.
If the snow shows, kids can ‘board away with this winter toy, which even works on grass and (you’ve been warned) carpeting. New model has an LED light. By GeospacePlay. Ages 4+. $44.99.
Stock this one for spring/summer fun. Invented by a Holly-area family, this backyard game mixes up horseshoes, ladders, washers and Frisbee golf. Ages 3+. $29.99.
Think of it as a Fitbit made just for kids. Garmin’s wrist-wearable tracker tallies steps, sleep and daily activity (an hour is the goal!), offering fun incentives for everything from movement to chores. Three design options. Swim friendly. Ages 4-9. $79.99.
E-Z Grip Football
Choice for newbies, this inflatable ball is encased in a tough, stretchy web that makes throwing and even one-handed catches a breeze. Three color options. By Tucker Toys. Ages 3+. $12.99
Giddy Buggy Bowling Set
Tykes can practice lining up six colorful critter pins with this set that’s suited for indoor and outdoor play. By Melissa & Doug. Ages 2-7. $19.99.
From Motown to techno, Detroit makes its melodic mark. Let your kids, too.
Chord Cube Guitar/Ukulele Blocks
Got a little Jack White on your hands? Made in Grand Rapids, these nine wood cubes have 54 diagrams to keep fingers busy – and a “v-tray” stand to prop them. By Uncle Goose. Ages 2+. $25.
The minds behind Shopkins bring you this brilliant selfie stick/karaoke mashup. Its free partner app, StarMaker, lets kids record themselves belting any of 3 million licensed songs, complete with rad backgrounds. Ages 8+. $24.99.
Bright and fun, French company Janod’s musical merch sounds as good as it looks. Xylophone, recorder (flute), castanets and tambourine set is $34.99 (ages 2-4), or splurge on a $94.99 baby grand (3-7).
This slumbering cuddle toy has a music box tucked inside. Tug the string to play one of four lullabies, by Brahms, Mozart or others. By Sigikid. Ages 0-3. $39.95 ($9.95/additional music boxes).
Rock and Roll It
Your kid’s next jam session is a wrap with these sturdy, mega-portable roll-up piano and drum sets. By Mukikim. Ages 6+. $49.99 each.